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Frequently Asked Questions

Admission

What are the admission requirements for the Master's program?

Learn more about how to apply for admission to the Master's program.

Applicants must submit all required application materials and meet the following requirements:

  • Completion of a four-year undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university with an undergraduate GPA of 2.75 or higher on a 4.00 scale. At the discretion of the GIScience program, students with a lower GPA may be admitted conditionally.
  • Minimum verbal plus quantitative GRE score of 286. Students not meeting this score must maintain a 3.00 GPA for the first nine hours of graduate credit before admission to candidacy. Under some circumstances, the GRE may be waived (see how to apply for admission).
  • There are additional admission criteria for international students. Please see the current graduate catalog or contact the Graduate School at gradsch@nwmissouri.edu.
  • Acceptance to graduate study by the Associate Provost of Graduate Studies and Special Programs.
  • Compliance with all of the eligibility requirements of the Graduate School as set forth in the current Graduate Academic Catalog.

What are the admission requirements for the certificate program?

Learn more about how to apply for admission to the graduate certificate program.

Applicants must submit all required application materials and meet the following requirements:

  • Completion of a four-year undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university with an undergraduate GPA of 2.75 or higher on a 4.00 scale. At the discretion of the GIScience program, students with a lower GPA may be admitted conditionally.
  • There are additional admission criteria for international students. Please see the current graduate catalog or contact the Graduate School at gradsch@nwmissouri.edu.
  • Acceptance to graduate study by the Associate Provost of Graduate Studies and Special Programs.
  • Compliance with all of the eligibility requirements of the Graduate School as set forth in the current Graduate Academic Catalog.

Are there any course prerequisites for admission?

There are no course prerequisites for admission to either the Master's or certificate program. Although GIS experience is beneficial to students, in-depth experience with GIS is not a mandatory requirement for admission.

Can courses be transferred from another university?

For the Master's degree, no more than nine semester hours of graduate credit consisting of no more than four courses may be transferred. The courses must be from a regionally- or nationally-accredited institution and must be applicable to the GIScience degree. GIScience faculty will determine if the courses are applicable. Transfer credit applied to the Master's degree must have been earned within eight years of the date the degree is awarded.

For the GIScience certificate, no more than three semester hours of graduate credit may be transferred. The courses must be from a regionally- or nationally-accredited institution and must be applicable to the GIScience certificate. Transfer credit applied to the certificate must have been earned within four years of the date the certificate is awarded.

Courses completed at any institution as part of an advanced degree from that institution are not eligible for transfer toward a graduate degree or certificate at Northwest.

If I want to try online learning, can I take one course in the GIScience program without being admitted to the Master's or certificate program?

Students who want to take a course in the online GIScience program without applying for admission to either the Master's or certificate program may apply for admission as a non-degree seeking graduate student.  For further information, contact Dr. Ming Hung, at mhung@nwmissouri.edu.

How Does the GIScience Program Work?

Are the Master's degree and certificate programs completely online?

Yes, the Master's degree and certificate programs are done entirely online. You never have to set foot on the Maryville campus.

How long does it take to earn the Master's degree or graduate certificate?

Beginning fall 2020, the GIScience courses will be taught in 7-week terms, with six 7-week terms per year. Most of our students are working full-time and will take one course per term. A Master's student who takes one course during each of the year's six terms can earn the degree in ten terms, which is less than two years. Certificate students taking one course per term can earn the certificate in ten months to one year, depending on course rotation.

What is the maximum time allowed for the Master's degree or certificate?

All requirements for the Master's degree or certificate must be completed in eight years.

Can I sit out a term and not take classes?

Yes, you may sit out one or more terms as you work towards the Master's degree or certificate. However, the clock for maximum time allowed keeps ticking during terms that you sit out.

Are courses offered year around?

Yes, although fewer courses may be offered during the summer term. Beginning fall 2020, the GIScience courses will be taught in 7-week terms, with six 7-week terms per year. The breaks between terms vary by the time of year, with a longer break from mid-December to the second week of January.

Can I take a course at my own pace? Are there set times when I must login to the course?

The online GIScience courses begin and end on specific dates established for Northwest Online courses. Each GIScience course will have its own internal deadlines established by the instructor. For example, students may be given one week to do a unit or a three-day period in which to take an exam. Within the internal deadlines for a course, students can access the course whenever they wish, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Because most of our students are working full-time and scattered across several time zones, there are few, if any, instances when students must login to a course at a specific time.

What is the normal course load?

Most of our GIScience students are working full-time.  With 7-week courses, most students will take one course at a time.

Graduate students taking six credit hours in one semester are considered full-time students. There are two 7-week terms in a semester, and a student taking one three-credit course in each of the 7-week terms of a semester is considered full-time. Students must be enrolled in at least three credit hours to be eligible for loans through the University. Contact the University's Financial Assistance Office for loan information.

How are courses delivered?

All Northwest Online courses use Canvas as the course delivery software.  Canvas is a widely-used learning management system for online education.  Northwest Online courses are accessed through a web browser.

A typical course will include readings, assignments (exercises or written assignments), asynchronous discussions, and short quizzes or longer exams. The readings may come from a textbook, other sources posted on the course site, and other online resources.

Many of our GIScience courses have assignments that require access to ArcGIS. ArcGIS is not accessed through the Canvas interface. Students install ArcGIS on their own PC. For an assignment that utilizes ArcGIS, a student will usually download the assignment and any supporting data from the course site and then log off the course site while using ArcGIS for the assignment. After completing the assignment, the student will login to the course site and upload any assignment deliverables to the course site.

Communication with the instructor is usually done through email, asynchronous discussions, and instructor feedback on assignments. Of course, phone calls from students are also welcome.

Are Master's and certificate students in the same course sections?

Yes, Master's and certificate students take the same course sections and must fulfill the same course requirements.

Moving between the Certificate and Master's Programs

If I begin the Master's or certificate program, can I change to the other program?

Students admitted to either the Master's or certificate program may change to the other program by formally applying for admission to the other program and meeting all of the admission requirements for it. The same transcripts submitted for admission to the first program may be used for application to the second program. The GRE is waived for applicants for the Master's program who have earned the GIScience graduate certificate at Northwest.

Do the certificate courses count towards the Master's degree?

All courses taken for the GIScience graduate certificate may be counted towards the Master's degree, as long as they were taken within the eight-year period allowed for the degree.

Do Master's students earn the GIScience certificate?

No. Students are enrolled in either the Master's program or the certificate program, not in both at the same time. However, a student who has earned the GIScience certificate may apply for admission to the Master's program and earn the Master's degree.

Program Cost

What does the program cost?

For fall 2020, tuition for the 7-week courses is a flat rate of $350 per credit hour for both in-state and out-of-state students. There are no additional per credit hour fees.

Other costs include an application fee, books, and a graduation fee for Master's students. Books will average approximately $100 per course. Note that this is an average. The textbook costs for some courses are higher, although costs can often be reduced by purchasing used books. All students are required to have ArcGIS Desktop Advanced and ArcGIS Pro and the Spatial Analyst, 3D Analyst, Network Analyst and Geostatistical Analyst extensions. Through Northwest's site license, students are provided with ArcGIS student licenses at no cost to the student. For more details on software and hardware requirements, please see: Software Requirements

Is financial aid available?

The Department currently does not have assistantships or fellowships for remotely located students. Graduate students seeking information about other financial aid available to graduate students should contact Northwest's Financial Assistance Office at 660.562.1363, or consult the office's web site.